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Lessons Learned Developing an Engaging Engineering Summer Camp

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 Outreach and Out-of-School Time Engineering Programming and Research

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.861.1 - 24.861.11



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Paper Authors


Karen J. Krapcho University of Utah

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Karen Krapcho,M.S. is the Outreach and grant coordinator for NSF-0652982.

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Cynthia Furse University of Utah Orcid 16x16

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Lessons Learned Developing an Engaging Engineering Summer Camp (other: recruitment,engagement, STEM integration)The goal of our NSF STEP (STEM talent expansion program) grant was to recruit more studentsinto engineering programs at the University of ____; one of the tools we used to do this was toestablish a three-day summer camp for high school students. Our initial camps were set up togive students an introduction to all of the different disciplines of engineering offered at theUniversity. In the camps run in 2008, 2009 and 2010 students rotated through a presentation andhands-on activity from each one of the 7 engineering departments. Evaluation of the summercamps showed them to be successful in that 36%, 41% and 40% (respectively) of the attendeeslater enrolled in the University, with more than half of them declaring STEM majors.Assessment revealed that that participation in the camp had changed their perceptions ofengineering and they looked at the field more favorably. However, attendance at these campsdropped precipitously: from 67 attendees in 2008, 41 in 2009 to 5 attendees in 2010. At thispoint a program coordinator was hired and challenged to build the camp into something theCollege of Engineering wanted to sustain. For the last three years, enrollment in our summer camp has remained steady at capacity. Theformat changed from a three day informational summit on engineering to an interactive summercamp experience. The changes arose from feedback from the campers and the organizers’ desireto produce an integrated STEM experience notably different from what they experience in a highschool classroom. The format was similar to the original camp; the students spent three daysinvolved in a themed-based camp on campus. The first two days they rotated through hands-onactivities and presentations in 4 of 6 areas of engineering (their choices). These choices werebased on morning demonstrations given by the three engineering teams of collegeundergraduates that planned and conducted that day’s activities. On the final day the group wasdivided into teams to work on a day-long challenge activity incorporating multiple aspects ofengineering, with the 7th department taking primary responsibility for the project. Parents wereinvited to see the final projects and learn more about how to help prepare students to studyengineering in college.Students were assessed pre- and post camp as well as at the end of every day to monitor changesin perceptions and interest in engineering. They were also asked to rate their overall experience.Our data shows that participating in a summer engineering program is an effective way to recruithigh school students and help them to define opportunities they would like to explore in college.It also provides a fun, interactive way for our engineering undergraduates to work collaborativelyin the design and implementation of a program.

Krapcho, K. J., & Furse, C. (2014, June), Lessons Learned Developing an Engaging Engineering Summer Camp Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20752

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